Protecting Peregrines on Britannia Bridge
The nature of our work means often requires us to mitigate conservational impact during project design stages. However, we often have to work around wildlife and marine life when they arrive unannounced on site. Just recently we’ve had to make room for a pair of peregrine falcons who have made their home on one of our sites to raise their family.
We’re carrying out refurbishment work on the Grade II listed Britannia Bridge, in North Wales on behalf of Network Rail where the birds were noticed and reported by a member of the public. While we have previously completed reactive and minor repairs here, this is the first major project we’ve undertaken on the striking Victorian structure.
The rail and road bridge also carries the A55 across the Menai Strait. It has three towers and with the nesting birds housed in the central tower we’ve sought and followed professional advice from our ecologists Whitcher Wildlife and changed the project to complete work on this tower later in the year to protect the pair during nesting, hatching and raising their young.
The work to install support beams under the stone lintels at the top of the three towers on the bridge, which was designed and built by Robert Stephenson in 1850, began in February, with the first phase seeing scaffolding being installed to protect road users on the bridge below.
So far, the initial scaffolding work has been installed on the Anglesey and Caernarfon towers during a period of night-time working, which required traffic management being put in place on the bridge for safety.
The second phase will see external access scaffolding erected up the sides of each tower so we can gain safe access at height. The project is now scheduled to finish in late summer and will provide safer more reliable journeys for rail passengers.
We’re accustomed to working in tandem with nesting birds and bats or even badgers in embankments but this was a new and welcome experience for our team who are eagerly watching over the pair like proud parents.
To read more about the scheme and the nesting falcons go to Network Rail media centre by clicking the link Best laid plans
Alternatively you can view an ITV news update by clicking this link ITV news Wales 20 April 2021
The bridge is notably decorated by four 25-foot lions sculpted in limestone, two at either end.